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Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Overview

Like a regular echocardiogram, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) uses ultrasound waves to take pictures of the pumping heart. The more detailed images of the heart's valves and chambers provided by the TEE are obtained by a cardiologist passing an ultrasound probe attached to a long flexible tube through the esophagus (food pipe). This method of visualizing the heart's structures ensures clear views, unobstructed by the ribs or lungs.

Before Your Appointment

  • Please pre-register for your appointment by calling 978-937-6429, Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., or anytime online at Express Registration .
  • An Appointment Reminder with specific instructions for your exam will be mailed to you.
  • Please keep the written order from your physician to bring to the exam.
  • Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a hiatal hernia or any other problem with swallowing or with your esophagus.
  • Obtain copies of any previous TEEs to bring to the exam.
  • Arrange for transportation home. The sedation administered during the procedure will make it unsafe for you to drive until the next day.

Exam Preparation

DO NOT eat or drink for after midnight before the exam.

During the Procedure

You will be hooked up to several monitoring devices, including an electrocardiograph. For adults, an anesthetic throat spray and light sedation are generally sufficient for minimizing discomfort. You will be asked to lie on your left side, as the cardiologist gently slides the lubricated endoscope down your throat. You may be asked to swallow to help move the tube along. This part of the test may feel uncomfortable but only lasts a few seconds. The scope does not interfere with your breathing. Once the tube is in place, your heart will be photographed from different angles. You will feel very drowsy and should remain comfortable for the rest of the test. The entire exam usually takes about 90 minutes.

After the Procedure

Nurses will monitor your vital signs for an hour or two as the sedative wears off. You may experience a mild sore throat. Serious complications, such as excessive bleeding and inflammation, are uncommon. Although the aftereffects of the sedative may not be apparent to you, you cannot drive yourself home.

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